Over the past few weeks, I’ve been coincidentally talking to several different people about some of my favorite bands. Whenever I bring up the name “Sonic Youth” as one of those bands, people usually know the name, but have reduced their knowledge of the group to “oh yeah, aren’t they the weird band that had a song on Guitar Hero?” I’ve even talked to a few people at WRVU about Sonic Youth, and, surprisingly, some of their reactions have been similar.
Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about France. For those of you who do not know, I studied abroad there last year, so naturally I adore all things French. Though I am a bit biased, I believe the French music scene is undervalued outside of Europe. While everyone has heard of Edith Piaf, few Americans know any modern French artists. It’s true that most of them do not get a lot of air time in the U.S., so I thought I would show you all a few of my favorites.
Without further ado, here’s a list of French songs you need to listen to right away:
Tous Les Mêmes – Stromae
Stromae is not actually French; he is Belgian. However, he is really popular artist in France and Europe in general. No francophone artist list would be complete without him. On a personal note, I cannot emphasize how much I love his music. His album Racine Carrée (translation: Square Root) is one of my favorite albums ever. Stromae’s songs are easy to dance to, yet his lyrics are quite serious. Each song tackles a social issue. Tous Les Mêmes, for example, describes the expectations of men and women regarding relationships. One lyric “les hommes sont tous les mêmes” translates to “men are all the same”. This is an especially cool video because Stromae plays both a man and woman. How many American rappers have you seen dress in drag?
It’s hard to put my finger on it, but something’s just not quite right with EL VY’s debut, Return to the Moon. A side project of Brent Knopf of Menomena and Matt Berninger of the National, EL VY carries quite a heavy set of expectations. While I’m not familiar with the work of Knopf, The National has long been one of my favorite bands, in large part thanks to Berninger’s dry, imagist lyrics and dolorous vocal delivery. And while it’s perhaps unfair to compare the two bands, it is nonetheless telling that the moments where this collaboration works best are when EL VY sounds the most like The National.
Many of us owe our first musical experiences to good ol’ mom and dad. Every generation has its musical highs and lows, but sometimes there comes along an artist that seems to transcend time. This list is dedicated to those universally appreciated artists. Here we have the top ten most popular artists that our parents taught us to love.
10. The Grateful Dead